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Developing corporate emotional intelligence with Gareth Chick

This week’s guest on The Melting Pot is Gareth Chick, a former CFO, CEO and chairman of both public and private companies. An executive coach for FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 CEOs, and now founder and managing partner of Collaborative Equity. 

After 40 years in the corporate world, Gareth has poured his extensive knowledge into two books and carved out his dream career at Collaborative Equity, as he is an acknowledged expert on corporate cultures and corporate psychology. 

Today Gareth shares with us how he got into business at the tender age of 12, because it was his dream to be out the front of a grocer’s shop serving customers. At 16, psychometric testing told him he should go into accounting, so he did, and never looked back. A CFO at 24 and CFO for a PLC subsidiary at 28, Gareth is the first to admit he was incredibly successful, very driven, but also controlling and arrogant. 

It took a leadership course he didn’t want to attend to make him change his ways. It didn’t just change his attitude towards work—it changed his life entirely. 

On today’s podcast:

  • How a leadership course 34 years ago changed his life
  • Our unconscious controlling habits (OUCH)
  • Why most managers need a deeper level of emotional intelligence
  • The three prime unconscious controlling habits of managers
  • Why managerial behaviours typically come about by learned experience
  • What we should learn from three-year-olds

Links:

This week’s guest on The Melting Pot is Gareth Chick, a former CFO, CEO and chairman of both public and private companies, including private equity. He’s an executive coach for FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 CEOs, counting Google leaders amongst his clients, and in 2013 he founded Collaborative Equity, where he remains a managing partner. 

Having spent 40 years in the corporate world, Gareth is an acknowledged expert on corporate cultures and corporate psychology. 

Knowing he wanted to get into business from a young age, he landed his dream job as a 12-year-old with his local greengrocer. He knew he wanted to be out front serving the customers and twirling the brown paper bags. And he loved it. 

At 16 Gareth underwent psychometric testing which told him he should go into accounting. So he did, and never looked back. CFO at 24 and CFO for a PLC subsidiary at 28, Gareth is the first to admit he was incredibly successful, very driven, but also controlling and arrogant. 

It took a leadership course he didn’t want to attend to make him change his ways. It didn’t just change his attitude towards work—it changed his life entirely. 

Gareth has shared with us some of his learned wisdom along the way, including a few tidbits from the two books he has written: And the Leader is… and Corporate, Emotional Intelligence.

Corporate emotional intelligence

Most managers need a deeper level of emotional intelligence than they have. They can cope and manage well when they’re not under pressure, however, they need corporate emotional intelligence to cope with the levels of pressure they’re routinely put under at work.

Gareth asks managers on his courses: ‘‘What is your worst habit as a manager when you’re under pressure?” He can pretty much guarantee that every answer will be something along the lines of not being able to deliver people development until the pressure is off. But the pressure is never off. 

3 prime unconscious controlling habits

Most managers are guilty of these three habits when they’re under pressure: 

  1. Asking closed questions. Asking closed, controlling questions and showing no interest in the employee. According to Gareth, most managers will tell the employee what the correct answer is, having just posed the question. Closed questions have become our prime controlling tool. 
  2. Filling silences. When we’re stressed and in survival mode, the survival part of our brain flushes with the stress hormone Cortisol. So if there’s silence for even a few seconds, the manager will continue to speak. Managers will fill a silence by either answering their own questions (and considering most managers rarely ask a question they don’t know the answer to, it’s another controlling tool). Or by making what they believe to be a motivational statement. 
  3. Giving multiple inputs. When stressed, managers tend to fire off multiple questions at a vast rate of knots, fearing if they don’t get them out in the open they will get forgotten. Managers seem physically incapable of allowing the respondent time to think and have a conversation, and so they either fill the silence with words, or only allow the employee time to answer the easiest question. 

Learned behaviour

The thing is, none of these controlling habits are taught; they are all learned behaviours from having spent time in the corporate world, from working in toxic environments or from having a boss who used controlling habits to get people to work harder. 

Self-managed teams

Gareth is a firm believer in self-managed teams—doing away with managers because more often than not they don’t help a business grow; they get in the way of innovation for the business.

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